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What Are the Business Benefits of GRC Integration

Nowadays the concept of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is of a great importance for many companies. With growing regulations and added organizational threats (both internal and external), GRC continues to become more valuable, as it allows organizations to achieve objectives, address uncertainties and operate with integrity. Integrated GRC demands that several roles work in harmony. Audit, risk management and compliance teams must come together to share information, data, assessments, metrics, risks and losses.

GRC as a discipline is aimed at collaboration and synchronization of information and activities. If implemented effectively, it enables stakeholders to predict risks with higher accuracy, and capitalize on the opportunities that truly matter. By adopting a federated GRC program, process owners at the business unit level can independently assess and manage their own risks and compliance requirements; at the same time, key risk and compliance metrics can be rolled up to the top of the organization for reporting and analysis.

  • Why should we integrate Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)?

Risk and compliance information in the right format, at the right time and in the right hands is crucial for the organisational success. It supports quick and informed decision-making, which can save an organisation from financial and reputational loss, data breaches, compliance violations and more. Stakeholders need to always be mindful of issues such as ineffective controls, unmitigated risks and policy conflicts. The path to achieving this objective lies in integrating GRC. Now that we know that integrated GRC solution is important, let us understand why it is essential.

  • Secures Assets

Assets in an organization can be anything, such as physical infrastructure, stored data, intellectual properties, data centers, human capital, e-assets, etc. Companies require their assets to be protected from all kinds of threats, such as natural calamity and cyber threats. There is a close competition between the data protectors and the data thieves. The point to be noted here is that as we develop more mechanisms to reduce cyber threats, cyber-crimes have evolved technologically as well. Government regulations and compliance standards help determine and implement controls to secure these assets. However, a centralized system and process that can monitor the smooth functioning of business in real time and raise a flag in case of any issue are essential to reduce the various risk exposures of the organization

  • Regulatory Changes and Control Implementation

Regulations are not simple and common anymore. Each country has different regulations in place and enforcement level of these regulations varies up to a large extent. For example, companies operating with North American health data needs to comply with HIPAA, whereas, companies dealing with European personal data needs to comply with GDPR. Since multinational corporations generally operate in different regions, implementing controls requires identifying commonality between different regulations and standards in order to ease the process of compliance. Hence, it becomes efficient to handle controls and control failures when the integration of GRC is done.

  • Cost Saving and Revenue Generation

Couple of years back, risk management and compliance were considered to be a part of the cost centre. Earlier, companies used to spend on GRC without understanding the financial benefits. Complying with standards was like a mere advantage and not a need. But the scenario has changed drastically today. GRC acts as a cost saver for the customers by ensuring automation of common processes and implementation of common controls to mitigate risks. From a service provider’s perspective, it acts as a revenue generator because GRC has become a necessity for all the customers and expert services are in huge demand.

  • Streamlined Management

Tracking down important information across multiple documents, computers, and/or storage methods is time-consuming and makes data and task management a bigger challenge than it has to be. Automating manual activities and developing repeatable processes and workflows, on the other hand, simplifies day-to-day GRC management tasks, reducing time and resource requirements and minimizing human error.

  • Greater Agility

Many organizations struggle with a lack of visibility into their business processes, vendor relationships, risk exposure, and other critical considerations for integrated risk management. Uniting analytics and reporting for these and other areas under one platform enables organizations to quickly analyze risks and opportunities and develop data-driven action plans. As a result, launching a new product or service, contracting with a new vendor, or responding to market changes becomes faster and more efficient.

Even though organizations may have different teams or managers handling ERM, vendor management, compliance, or business continuity, their management processes and data don’t have to be siloed. However, the benefits of GRC integration are only possible with a two-pronged approach of – strong policies and procedures for governance, risk, and compliance management, and  a flexible technology architecture that supports and enhances your GRC initiatives.

If your organization is looking for ways to tie those two pieces together, PATECCO is able to support you. We help businesses quickly implement a holistic, integrated GRC program using built-in best practices.

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) – what it is, why it matters, and how to implement it in the Cloud

Cyber security is an all-encompassing subject that gets thrown around with many generalizations within the IT marketing landscape. There is no specific blueprint to follow to when securing a company’s IT infrastructure, but there is a philosophy that should be acknowledged as a foundation. The philosophy is called “principles of least privilege,” and it is known as a paramount to keeping your environment secure. This article will explain what this means and how this security model can up your security stature.

What is the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

The principle of least privilege (PoLP) is an information security concept in which a user’s access rights are limited to only those required to perform their jobs. This principle, sometimes called the access control principle, grants users permissions and access to only those resources that are strictly necessary to perform their job functions. By doing so the damage that can result from an accident or error is limited. For example, an employee who works in sales should not have access to financial records. An account created for someone in marking should not have administrator privileges.

Any system or asset can be protected in two basic ways- first, by patching any weakness or vulnerability, and second, by limiting access and functionality. The first method aims at preventing security breaches while the second method goes one step further and additionally aims at limiting the damage in the case of breaches. This second method is referred to as the principle of least privilege. PoLP is a cybersecurity best practice and is instrumental in the security of critical data and assets. This principle is not restricted to human access alone and can be applied to any application, system, or device that requires access or permissions to perform tasks. The access rights for applications, systems, and processes can also be restricted to only those who are authorized.

Why is the Principle of Least Privilege so important?

  • Least privilege prevents data misuse

Users can only steal data they have access to. But one major risk that is often overlooked comes in the form of special rights, for instance remote access for users working from home. As an employer, you are usually not going to assume the worst and expect that your employees will abuse their privileges. However, if you permit them to work from home using a VPN connection, you’ll still want to make sure that you have that DLP function (data loss prevention) in the VPN software activated.  Another lurking danger that can be countered using the least privilege principle is your ex-employee with still upright privileges. If POLP is implemented correctly and consistently, the user’s privileges will be revoked completely once he or she leaves.

  • Stay compliant, optimize audits

Every company must ensure that both internal and external compliance policies are met. Such policies include the GDPR and HIPAA, for instance. These regulations stipulate that measures be taken that are all, in some way or another, based around the principle of least privilege.

  • POLP saves time, POLP saves money

In organizations that have not yet implemented an access management software, admins sometimes grant admin privileges to non-admin users. The idea behind this is to give certain people, e.g. department heads, admin rights so they can assign privileges to their subordinates without having to go through the IT department every time. It is a total time-saver because it frees up time for IT admins, allowing them to tend to more important matters.

Tips for implementing Least Privilege in the cloud

The principle of least privilege is conceptually simple but implementing it can be very complex depending on your IT infrastructure. As we mentioned earlier, the principle applies not only to individual users but also to networks, devices, programs, and services. When implementing PoLP, the most important thing to remember is that the principle must apply to all entities because the compromise of any one endpoint, system, or process can potentially put the entire organization at risk.

  • Discover & classify your sensitive data

 As a beginning, the first step should be to ensure that we know exactly what sensitive data we have, and where it is located. Most popular cloud platforms provide data classification capabilities out-of-the-box, including AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Some solutions can also classify sensitive data at the point of creation. Our practical advice is to make sure that any redundant data is removed before attempting to implement PoLP. Establishing a profound understanding of what data you have makes the process of assigning access rights considerably easier.

  • Implement Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

A helpful technique that is used to simplify the process of setting up PoLP is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). As opposed to trying to assign access rights to specific individuals, you can define a comprehensive set of roles, each with their respective privileges, and assign users to these roles on an ad-hoc basis. While RBAC is arguably less granular than assigning access rights on a per-user basis, it is generally more secure as it is less prone to error. Most popular cloud platforms provide role-based access control, including Azure and Google Cloud.

  • Identify and remove inactive user accounts

It is necessary to ensure that any inactive user accounts are identified and removed before implementing PoLP. Since inactive user accounts are rarely monitored, hackers often target them as it enables them to gain persistent access to the network with less risk of getting caught.

  • Monitor privileged accounts in real-time

You should also ensure that you have as much visibility as possible into who is already accessing what data, and when. Most real-time auditing solutions use machine learning techniques to monitor user behavior and establish usage patterns which can be tested against in order to identify anomalies. Once you have an understanding of each user’s behavioral patterns, you can use this information as a guide to determine what data each user should have access to.

  • Review all IAM permissions

Constantly review all IAM permissions and privileges in the cloud environments and strategically remove unnecessary elevated permissions to cloud workloads.

  • Enforce the Principle of Least Privilege to your third-parties too

Even if you implement the principle of least privilege, your third-party associates maybe do not do it. This only poses a threat to your organization. Make sure that you apply the principle of least privilege to contractors, vendors, and remote sessions and establish if they really are a threat or not.

The principle of least privilege is the concept of restricting access rights of users to only those resources that are required for performing their legitimate functions. Least privilege applies not just to users but also to applications, systems, processes, and devices such as IoT. PoLP is a security best practice and a foundational element of a zero-trust security framework. Implementing least privilege is instrumental in reducing security and business risks that may result from external attacks as well as internal threats and errors.

Six Benefits of Transitioning to Cloud SaaS Solutions

Nowadays, an increasing number of traditional software companies are switching to cloud-based and SaaS subscription models – and with good reason. As we see more companies take the leap, we’re gaining insight on the advantages of transitioning, which include: potential for faster revenue growth over time, increased agility, and more predictable revenue. But aside from witnessing the advantages of switching to the subscription model, we can learn from these other companies and gain valuable best practices for other software companies looking to take the leap.

If you are looking to explore the possibilities of delivering your products in a SaaS model, embracing the cloud will be a key tenet of your go-forward approach. In this article we will take you through six reasons and benefits why transitioning to the cloud is essential to delivering your products through a SaaS model.

  • What is Cloud-based Software?

Cloud software shifts components of your IT infrastructure and processes out of your physical office and into a network of physical and virtual servers around the world – almost always accessed through the internet. This simple change presents businesses with a number of valuable benefits, including:

– Improved productivity and collaboration through lightning-fast file sync and sharing

– Worldwide accessibility for any user on any device who has access permissions

– Seamless scalability without the need for space-occupying storage devices

– Endless flexibility with storage, backup, and recovery customizations

– Built-in protection from data loss due to diversified storage locations

Capitalizing on these benefits, businesses – particularly SMBs – are taking advantage of the cloud-based software from the countless SaaS companies flooding the market. Cloud backup software, cloud storage, cloud customer relationship management (CRM), cloud content management system (CMS), and countless other services now offer businesses the agility, flexibility, and ease-of-use they need to stay competitive.

Good examples of cloud SaaS solutions that many businesses have come to trust are:

  • Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is used by 53 percent of businesses. With this solution, you gain access to the same high-quality productivity applications you’re familiar with (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), while enjoying the accessibility found only through cloud software. With the Microsoft 365 you have the flexibility to back up and protect this data exactly where and how you want.

  • Google Workspace

Google Workspace allows businesses to create, manage, and store data from a wide array of different applications through an easy-to-use interface that a growing number of businesses are adopting.

  • ServiceNow

The ServiceNow platform delivers a wide range of cloud software solutions including everything from IT operations management and security operations to application development and HR services. Many of their cloud services are completely automated to streamline entire workflows.

  • Benefits of SaaS Solutions

1. Easy to implement

SaaS is already installed and configured in a cloud, so you don’t have to worry about setting up the infrastructure (which can get complicated). Implementation typically only involves registering and either downloading a web browser extension or the application to your computer.

Adopting SaaS means you don’t have to build out your own infrastructure and software. Beyond the implementation stage, SaaS is easy for updates. SaaS providers manage hardware and software updates, leaving you with a more seamless experience.

2. Reduced administration time and costs

SaaS providers typically deal with infrastructure and management allowing their customers to focus on their core business. They control the security with dedicated professionals. The cloud offers endless scalability, which is key in a data-driven world. And reliability is proven to be higher with the availability of much better disaster recovery.

When purchasing a perpetual based licensing model, organisations are required to pay a costly upfront sum, however SaaS models reduce initial upfront expenses by spreading the costs out over a subscription fee which can be paid monthly or annually for example.

By implementing a cloud-based SaaS platform, organisations can cut down on the expenses it would usually incur on updating legacy-based systems and infrastructure, as well as reduce the costs associated with operational costs. With continual monitoring and updating, your applications will run smoothly, removing the need for unexpected support fees as well as storage and resource costs.

3. Managed Service and Support

SaaS offerings are fully managed by a third party provider, ultimately reducing the hassle for an organisation to manage if overseeing in-house. Managed SaaS providers operate everything for you including hosting, support, upgrades and licencing.

This reduces the stress over monitoring hardware systems and worrying about installing the latest versions of software updates. A managed service ensures a smooth transition, all carried out for you, removing the strain to manage on your own environment. A managed service ensures a smooth transition, all carried out for you, removing the strain to manage on your own environment. By having a managed service provider to handle this for you, your business can ensure an efficient service without any time-consuming disruptions.

4. Scalability

SaaS platforms offer scalable usage based on the demands of your business, whether that’s adjusting the capacity for additional users or scaling back to reduce numbers. This gives your organisation the flexibility based on demand, allowing you to enhance the service as and when you need to, all in a simple, cost effective process. Scalability within SaaS subscription models greatly benefits businesses in terms of cost overheads as organisations will always have a clear idea of what predictable costs for both subscription and administration will be. As you scale, there is no requirement to invest in additional capacity for servers for example, you simply adjust your subscription fee.

5. Security

In recent years, data protection and GDPR have become a vocal point with growing awareness around data. Organisations often feel reluctant when moving to a SaaS based model with concerns over who has access to their data and how it may be used. However, one of the most important factors when transitioning to a SaaS environment for any internal IT team is to reduce the burden of safeguarding your infrastructure. Of course, understandably you are relying and entrusting a third-party provider to look after your cloud estate, which many businesses would be concerned about. However, with SLA’s put in place, off site back up, deployment, security threats, transferal of data through to vulnerability testing all taken care of – transitioning should be a secure, efficient process.

Currently, cloud hosting services are built to address the privacy demands of our customers and help safeguard sensitive data. This hopefully ensures peace of mind for organisations and their customers that their data is secure and stored separately per customer.

6. Cross platform accessibility

A huge advantage of using a cloud based or SaaS platform is the access to services on almost any device, anytime, as long as you have access to the internet. This ensures instant availability to services, and information anytime, anywhere which ultimately boosts productivity and efficiency. Workforces who work remotely while out on the road, from home or across various sites will find this extremely beneficial and cost effective. Not only will this help reduce travel requirements and expenses, but it will also increase the ability to update information, respond to customers and increase communication amongst colleagues as and when required.

By transitioning to a SaaS based model, your business can benefit from increased revenue, greater agility and improved customer relationships. Managed SaaS services can help you achieve your business requirements as you grow without worrying about the technical requirements. Of course, the transition from perpetual to SaaS will be determined by an organisations’ requirements, business goals and buying behaviour. With technology enabling more processing power, storage and security updates, as well as SaaS based models offering competitive pricing, more organisations will start to put their trust in transitioning to Software as a Service.

If you’d like more information on how moving to SaaS can benefit your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on info@patecco.com and we’ll be happy to help.

Why Organizations Need Identity Governance In their Journey to Digital Transformation

In March 2020, the enterprise business landscape drastically changed. Within two weeks, thousands of businesses closed, working remotely became the new normal, and malicious hackers took the opportunity to attack the increasingly vulnerable business systems. Enterprises, with poorly structured or monitored identity and access management system became a common target for cyber attackers. In such a long-lasting situation Identity governance and administration (IGA) is a critical component in reducing identity-related vulnerabilities and creating policies to manage access compliance. Now, more than ever, we need these two things to overcome the challenges of post-COVID-19 enterprise business security.

Why Identity Governance matters?

Organizations embracing digital transformation need a consistent framework for operationally managing and governing their rapidly expanding digital ecosystem and IGA is an important piece. At its core, the goal behind IGA is to ensure appropriate access, when and where it is needed.  IGA is the branch of identity and access management that deals with making appropriate access decisions. It allows your company to embrace the benefits of hyper-connectivity while ensuring that only the right people have access to the right things at the right times. When it’s done right, IGA improves the security and gives valuable insights about employee activity and needs.

In this article we will explain why Identity Governance matters and why it is a critical factor for the companies in their journey to the digital transformation.

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) is becoming increasingly important amongst Identity and IT Security professionals. This is an area that provides operational management, integration, security, customization and overall support for an enterprise IAM program. IGA combines the entitlement discovery, the decision-making process, and the access review and certification of access governance with the identity lifecycle and role management of user provisioning. Inappropriate and outdated access to the company resources is a commonplace in many enterprise IAM programs today and it creates substantial risk. A comprehensive IGA program across diverse constituencies can help identify and manage these risks and address compliance requirements. Organizations can implement IGA in phases, making it easier to adopt and will quickly find it provides a solid foundation for reducing risk and improving security.

  • IGA Delivers Timely and Effective Access to the Business

Identity governance and administrations give your users speedy and efficient access to the resources required to do their work. It makes it happen by leveraging tools such as single sign-on software equipped with functionalities like multi-factor authentication and more. This allows them to become and stay productive regardless of how quickly or how much their responsibilities change.

Likewise, IGA also authorizes business users to manage and request access, which reduces the amount of work in information security or IT operations teams. Your employees can meet service level requirements with automated policy enforcements without compromising compliance or security.

  • IGA Automates labor-intensive processes

Identity governance and administration cuts on operational costs by automating labor-intensive processes such as password management, user provisioning, and access requests. Automation helps IT administrators save time on administrative tasks and fulfill business needs of higher importance.

Many IGA tools provide a simple user interface through which users can self-assist their requirements and address service requests independently without IT admins’ intensive involvement. The tools provide a dashboard that populates with metrics and analytical data on user access controls, helping organizations optimize and reduce associated risks.

  • Regulatory Compliance

With regulations like the GDPR, SOX, and HIPAA the industries are focusing on access issues more than ever. Limiting and monitoring access to only those that need it is not only a crucial security measure, but one that is becoming critical to staying in compliance with these regulations.

IGA solutions not only help ensure that access to sensitive information like patient records or financial data is strictly controlled, they also enable organizations to prove they are taking these actions. Organizations can receive audit requests at any time. An effective IGA solution makes the required periodic review and attestation of access business friendly, effective, and comes with built-in reporting capabilities to meet relevant government and industry regulations. Taking a visual approach to the data can make this whole process more accurate and easier to deploy to the business.

  • Identify risks and strengthen security

Organizations face significant threats from compromised identities triggered by stolen, vulnerable, or default user credentials. With a centralized and comprehensive overview of user identities and access privileges, identity governance and administration solutions empower IT administrators to identify weak controls, policy violations, and improper access that can open the organizations to disruptive risks and rectify these risk factors before they escalate. It keeps track of user identities and allows you to detect compromised accounts, which enables you to strengthen your assets’ security.

  • IGA Monitors the Non-Employee Identities on Your Network

Making identity governance a business process priority means exerting concrete control over your network. You can use it to monitor and regulate the behaviour of your enterprises’ nonhuman and third-party identities, ensuring they participate only in the necessary workflows.

Identity governance can segment and restrict, enforcing discipline when programs try to take advantage of every leniency. In this case, you can view identity governance not only as a cybersecurity measure but as a way to keep your workflows uncluttered.

Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) provides the identity foundation that powers today’s most important security initiatives, including Zero Trust, Digital Transformation, and Cyber Resilience. With a comprehensive IGA program, you’ll have the critical capabilities and identity services to bridge data and product silos and adapt at the speed of change.

Which Are the Best Practices in Privileged Access Management?

The digital world often faces problems of abused privileges or stolen credentials which are seen as the main cause of data breaches. The reason is that many companies do not track how their employees use shared privileged credentials and do not engage in privileged user monitoring. These risks can be reduced through effective privileged access management (PAM). PAM is a set of policies and processes for assigning, controlling, and monitoring administrator-level privileges and should be a major focus for Security and IT management who are looking to mitigate the risks of data breaches and insider risks.

Why companies need strict access control?

As mentioned above compromised credentials are a main cause the vast majority of security breaches. Attackers cannot easily get around modern security mechanisms, so they find a way out and steal credentials by getting into the network. Usually, an attacker aims to get privileged credentials through the network by gaining low-level access to steal data, disable systems, and cover their tracks.

When it comes to controlling access to a company’s cloud workloads, big data projects and network devices, the practice shows that most enterprises are not doing enough to address modern security concerns. Today’s environment is much different than when all privileged access was constrained to systems and resources inside the network. Privileged access management not only covers infrastructure, databases and network devices, but is extended to cloud environments, big data, DevOps, containers and more.

Basically, PAM includes a collection of practices, policies and technologies that protect administrative or “privileged” access to the back ends of critical systems. Privileged users operate privileged accounts, where they are authorized to set up, configure, reconfigure or delete systems, servers, databases and storage volumes.  Privileged users are necessary for the proper functioning of the IT departments, but their features makes them very attractive targets for hackers. Some of the worst data breaches in recent times were a result from the abuse of privileged accounts and the impersonation of privileged user identities. Protecting privileged credentials is a major goal of cyber security policy and security operations.

PAM Best Practices

There are companies still using spreadsheets and common sense to manage privileged accounts, but this is no longer a viable and efficient approach.  Such companies should take PAM seriously and to integrate that solution within their Identity and Access Management system. Below is presented a set of PATECCO privileged access best practices which all organizations should follow:

1. Identity Consolidation

The management of privileged identities and their access to critical systems only makes sense if all identities that are to be managed are unambiguously recorded in the context of an initial survey. For this reason, PATECCO recommends starting a PAM project with an analysis, cleansing and consolidation of existing identities, roles, permissions, and local accounts across all, especially heterogeneous, resources.

Only if a uniform and unambiguous collection of all these identities is guaranteed, the next step can be taken meaningfully regarding the consideration of privileged access. Specifically, this means that all identities can also log into the system in a personalized manner, so that authorizations can then be granted to this unique identity even in administrative systems.

As best practices from the PATECCO project experience, an Active Directory is used to consolidate UNIX, Linux, and LDAP identities with a single, unique ID for centralized identity, role, and permission management and for Kerberos-based authentication

2. Privileged Access Request

The central challenge for any privileged access management system is the use of a (minimum) four-eyes principle that uniquely identifies the requestor and the approver and enables   traceability. A workflow-based request and approval mechanism for privileged access is usually used for this purpose.

Access to and use of privileged accounts is a key focus for regulators in many industries, but access to critical corporate resources should also be controlled, documented, and monitored in every other organization to improve security, governance, and compliance.

3. Super User Privilege Management (SUPM)

PATECCO calls the ability to enable a “least privilege” access model for authorized users via authorization extension tools SUPM, Super User Privilege Management. The aim of this procedure is to assign only the minimum set of authorizations at session runtime. An interactive session starts with as few authorizations as possible and is only elevated when required. In particular, the aim is to avoid the necessity of accessing shared accounts through a modified authorization model.

For this PATECCO uses the combination with Identity Consolidation in Active Directory. This provides further administrative advantages so that roles and authorizations for administrative users can be managed centrally. In addition, global changes can be made quickly and consistently under Windows, Linux and UNIX.

4. Shared Account Password Management (SAPM)

When implementing PAM projects, PATECCO puts great emphasis on the protection of the assets of the respective organization. Shared accounts ought to be prevented conceptually, because the containment of data protection violations is most effective if the attack surface can be reduced.

The aim is therefore to reduce the number of privileged accounts as far as possible towards zero and to use SAPM only for emergency login scenarios such as “Break Glass”. This applies to legacy and emergency scenarios in which privilege elevation cannot be reached sensibly and in which direct logon as administrator (for example, root) must be allowed in exceptional cases.

5. Application to Application Password Management (AAPM)

A key design deficiency in programs that require automated access to critical systems (such as provisioning systems or other programs that use service accounts) is the use of hard-coded credentials in application code, scripts, and other configuration files. AAPM tools provide a workaround by providing a mechanism (typically APIs) to make credentials securely available on demand by accessing a secure password vault. PATECCO supports during the execution of a PAM project in implementing AAPM as an extension of the SAPM tools. This helps in managing accounts used by applications or systems to communicate with other applications or systems (such as databases, web services etc.).

By implementing PAM capabilities and following PAM best practices, privileged users have efficient and secure access to the systems they manage, while organizations can monitor all privileged users for all relevant systems. PATECCO supports in ensuring that audit and compliance requirements are met and can support in implementing privacy policies adherent to regulatory and legal requirements, e.g. EU-GDPR.

How Does Identity Governance Achieve Security and Compliance?

Nowadays, in the era of Digital Transformation, more and more organizations and people are using the new technologies of smart devices, cloud computing and social media to shop, to buy or deliver services and for other commercial purposes. In this hyperconnected world, Electronic Identities (IDs) provide the opportunity for organizations to know their customers and at the same time to secure information systems and sensitive data. Both objectives are successfully achieved by Identity Governance process.

Simply explained, Identity governance is a policy-based centralized orchestration of user identity management and access control. Identity governance helps support enterprise IT security and regulatory compliance. Organisations are facing rising demands and compliance regulations while managing the access and support of many devices and systems that carry critical data.

What Does Identity Governance Perform?

Identity Governance and Intelligence solutions help companies to create and manage user accounts and access rights for individual users within the enterprise. In this way the companies conveniently manage user provisioning, password management, access governance and identity repositories. IGI Solutions also enable companies to make sure that they take appropriate actions to meet compliance challenges. They help conduct a more accessible and useful review process with a reporting ability to meet significant government and industry rules. Besides, IGI solutions perform a great visual approach, allowing the users to witness privileges and certifications in a user friendly and graphical display.

  • Role Management

Key capability of identity governance and intelligence solution is role management, which is deeply tied into the Principle of Least Privileges. This Principle states employees and users only have the minimum permissions necessary to fulfil their job functions. Furthermore, role management allows your IT security team to monitor permissions and privileges on each user’s account. With the availability of the visibility, the security team can remove any unnecessary permissions they detect.

  • Centralized Access Requests

Without centralizing the access requests, the IT security team must handle each request manually, which is hard and time-consuming process. To avoid such situation, identity governance solution should include a centralization portal for all access requests. This portal helps you to connect all of the applications in your IT environment. Besides, the administrators can monitor the usage of the special permissions and can submit and process access requests, approvals, and denials in more efficient manner.

  • Identity Lifecycle Management

In identity and access management, Identity Lifecycle Management refers to the processes utilized in creating, managing, and removing a user identity from your network. Without the right permissions, your employees cannot perform their jobs properly and providing the wrong permissions could create cybersecurity issues. That is why Identity Governance solutions can help your IT security team onboard and offboard permissions efficiently and with securely.

  • Managed Services

It is crucial for the security of the enterprise to protect and monitor the permissions of your third party-users and applications, vendors, customers, and partners. Each of these identities requires identity governance to operate securely. In case your enterprise’s IT security team is not able to handle governing all of these users, your IGI solution provider can help you manage these tasks remotely. By the help of managed services, it is possible to provide 24/7 identity monitoring and to process the role management, compliance reporting, and access request features.

What Challenges Does Identity Governance Address?

  • Compliance

With regulations like the GDPR, SOX, and HIPAA industries pay attention to access issues more than ever. The security measure to limit and to monitor the access to those that need it, is not enough. Now it is becoming critical to stay in compliance with these regulations, as well.

IGI solutions not only ensure that access to sensitive information (such as financial data) is strictly controlled, but they also enable organizations to prove they are taking these actions. Enterprises can receive audit requests at any time. A good IGI solution makes the required periodic review and attestation of access business friendly, effective, and comes with built-in reporting capabilities to meet the government and industry regulations. Taking a visual approach to the data makes the whole process more accurate and easier to deploy to the business.

  • Risk Management

IGI solutions reduce the exposure of sensitive data by limiting and guarding access to information. They enable a robust approach to managing and governing access by focusing on three aspects of access:

First, they practice the principle of least privilege, eliminating excess privileges and granting access to only those who need it in order to do their jobs. Secondly, they terminate “orphaned” accounts as quickly as possible. These accounts that are no longer being used (because of an employee dismissal or some other reason) are perfect targets for cyber criminals aiming to breach the environment. Finally, IGI solutions monitor for segregation of duty (SoD) violations. This critical risk management concept dictates that no single individual should be able to complete a task, creating a built-in system of checks and balances.

  • Business Changes

Companies develop and change constantly and IGI solution makes these changes more efficient and less risky. IGI solutions provision access based on roles, and not on individual accounts, that’s why the strategy of Role Based Access Control (RBAC) works equally well for small changes (like individual promotions or transfers) and large changes (like mergers, acquisitions, and corporate reorganizations). IGA solutions efficiently shorten the timeline for executing bulk additions or transitions of user accounts by automating and streamlining provisioning and approvals.

Considered as a part of Identity and Access Management (IAM), Identity Governance offers organizations increased visibility of identities and access privileges of users. That gives them the opportunity to effectively manage who has access to what systems and when. Identity governance empowers the business to do more with less, meet increasing audit demands, and make the companies more secure, while enabling them to develop at the same time.

6 Benefits of Implementing Privileged Access Management

A great number of companies are facing challenges in maintaining data security, which is an essential part of their business. All they meet difficulties in handling those challenges. That is why it is important for them to know that attackers will always find a new way of doing their actions and getting everything they need. As a result, attackers who gain control of privileged accounts have the key to break the whole IT system.

To avoid the data breaches and to handle such situation, Privileged Access Management (PAM) comes to help the enterprises.

Privileged Access Management could be explained as the creation and enforcement of controls over users, systems and accounts that have elevated or “privileged” entitlements. According to Microsoft, Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a solution that helps organizations restrict privileged access within an existing Active Directory environment. Privileged Access Management accomplishes two goals:

The first goal is to re-establish control over a compromised Active Directory environment by maintaining a separate bastion environment that is known to be unaffected by malicious attacks. The second goals is to Isolate the use of privileged accounts to reduce the risk of those credentials being stolen.
The problems that PAM help could solve are related to vulnerabilities, unauthorized privilege escalations, spear phishing, Kerberos compromises and other attacks.

Nowadays it is easy for the attackers to obtain Domain Admins account credentials, but it is too difficult to discover these attacks after the fact. The goal of PAM is to limit the opportunities for malicious users to get access and at the same time to increase your control, visibility, and awareness of the environment.

What PAM does, is to make it hard for attackers to enter the network and obtain privileged account access. PAM adds protection to privileged groups that control access across a range of domain-joined computers and applications on those computers. In addition, it provides more monitoring, more visibility, and more fine-grained controls. This enables organizations to see who their privileged administrators are and what are they doing. PAM gives organizations more insight into how administrative accounts are used in the environment and that is a good prerequisite to prevent the data breaches.

Key PAM Benefits

Managing Access for Non-Employees

Misuse of privileged access, whether it’s through an external attacker or accidental misconfiguration, can cause a lot of troubles. For many enterprises, there are times when subcontracted personnel needs continued access to the system. In this case PAM offers a solution by including role-based access only. The benefit is that you will not need to provide domain credentials to outsiders and access will be limited based on administrator map user roles.

Automation

One of the top benefits of PAM system deployment is Automation. It also decreases the likelihood of human error, which is an inevitable part of the increasing workload placed on IT personnel. Switching from a manual privileged access management system to an automated solution, boosts the overall productivity, optimizes security protocols and at the same time reduces costs.

Threat Detection

PAM has the capability to track the behavior of users. On one hand, it allows you to look at the resources and information that are being accessed in order to detect suspicious behavior. On the other hand, the system itself makes reports and analysis on user activity. This makes it easier to stay in compliance with regulations and is used to review the actions of users if you suspect that there may be a leak.

Session Management

If a user has access to the system, PAM assists in workflow management through automation of each approval step throughout the session duration. You could also receive notification for specific access requests that require manual approval by an administrator. Session management gives you actually the ability to control, monitor and record access.

Protect Sensitive Data

There could be a situation, when people with high-privilege authority work in IT have access to your system. With this level of access, it is always possible to leave the system open to a threat. Besides, they could use their privilege to hide malicious behaviour.

To prevent that, PAM adds a level of accountability and oversight. It creates an audit trail that monitors the activity of all users. This makes it easier to find behaviours or actions that caused an attack.

Auditing

Auditability of authentication and access is core to the IAM lifecycle many organizations. Privileged activity auditing is already required in regulations for SOX, HIPAA, FISMA, and others. Auditing privileged access is essential due to the GDPR, which mandates management of access to personal data, putting all privileged access in scope.

As Kuppingercole’s analyst – Matthias Reinwarth says – Privileged Access Management has been and will be an essential set of controls for protecting the proverbial “keys to your kingdom”. Proper planning and continuous enhancement, strong enterprise strong enterprise policies, adequate processes, well-chosen technologies, extensive integration are key success factors. The same holds true for a well-executed requirements analysis, well-planned implementation, well-defined roll-out processes and an overall well-executed PAM project. The more attacks and data breaches are found and caused by misuse of privileged access, the more organizations have realized that protecting their credential data need to be a top priority.

Click to read PATECCO PAM White Paper here:

The Role of Identity Governance in Security and Compliance

In the complex network of managing user rights, permissions and accounts, tracking who has access to certain resources becomes almost impossible. Every organisation is facing demands, mandates and compliance regulations while managing the access and support of many devices and systems that contain critical data. Identity Governance and Intelligence solutions help business with the ability to create and manage user accounts and access rights for individual users within the company. In this way they can more conveniently manage user provisioning, password management, access governance and identity repositories.

Why is Identity Governance Critical to Security?

Identity governance is the core of most organizations’ security and IT operations strategies. It allows businesses to provide automated access to an increasing number of technology assets and at the same to manage potential security and compliance risks. Identity governance enables and secures digital identities for all users, applications and data.

In case the identity governance is compromised, the organization is left vulnerable to security and compliance violations. Companies can solve this problem by investing in identity governance and intelligence (IGI) solutions that address the business requirements of compliance mangers, auditors and risk managers. According to our partner IBM, “IGI provides a business activity-based modelling approach that simplifies the user access and roles design, review and certification processes. With this approach, you can establish trust between IT and business managers around business activities and permissions, making workflows understandable for nontechnical users. IGI solutions enable security teams to leverage powerful analytics to make informed decisions about identity, give users the applications and the flexible data access they need, and help to ensure compliance with ever-evolving regulations.”

When we talk about managing access within the organization, a number of researches show that more than 50 percent of users have more access privileges than required for their job. In most cases the reason is bulk approvals for access requests, frequent changes in roles or departments, and not regular reviewing user access. The trouble is that too much access privilege and overprovisioning can open an organization up to insider threats and increase the risk throughout the business.

It’s necessary to make sure that users have the appropriate access and to prevent facing with insider threats. The risk could be decreased by using role-based access controls (RBAC) – this means having solid, well-defined roles in place and knowing specifically which access privileges each role needs. As organizations grow and evolve, the right IGI solution can allow for more efficient changes and decrease risk by focusing on role definitions and role assignments rather than on individual accounts. The strategy of RBAC works well to decrease the timeline in executing bulk additions where a lot of change is happening at once, like during mergers, acquisitions and corporate reorganizations.

Why is Identity Governance Critical to Compliance?

Companies today have to manage customer, vendor, and board member demands, but at the same time they also must make sure they are compliant with any number of regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX. The increasing number of federal regulations and industry mandates that organizations face today, leads to more auditing, compliance reviews, and reporting.

Identity Governance is a critical discipline involved in this regulation. To be GDPR compliant, organizations must ensure that the personal data they process, collect, and store is properly protected. IBM Security Identity Governance & Intelligence (IGI) can help with that process. IGI allows only the right people to access and manage GDPR-relevant data. IGI presents these people to a business manager holistically in a single pane of glass. (source: IBM) IGI solutions not only strictly control the access to sensitive information like patient records or financial data, but also enable companies to prove they are taking actions to meet compliance requirements.

Furthermore, IGI solutions make the review process easier and more effective with built-in reporting capabilities to meet relevant government and industry regulations. A good compliance program allows for frequent and multiple access reviews to take place at any given time to meet ever-increasing auditor demands without engaging numerous resources from the organization.

One of the main reasons for implementing an IGI solution, is to ensure that users only have access to the resources they need. It also makes sure that you provide appropriate access, risk mitigation and improved security posture of your organization. Unfortunately, a lot of companies today may not view this as a strategic priority and that is a prerequisite to suffer a security incident at some moment. What such companies should do, is to trust IGI solutions and their strong capabilities. See here how PATECCO IGI Solutions are the foundation for a solid Identity and Access Management program in your organization.

How IAM Ensures Secure Access to Information Across Your Enterprise

To meet the challenges of today’s world, competitive companies need to increase their business agility in a secure environment and need to enforce the performance of their IT infrastructure. With the development of the business, enterprises now require new methods to manage secure access to information and applications across multiple systems, delivering on-line services to employee, customer and suppliers without compromising security. Companies must be able to trust the identities of users requiring access and easily administer user identities in a cost-effective way. That’s why it is important how they manage all the identities that access information across the enterprise (from employees and customers to trading partners), how they keep all interactions compliant and secure regardless of access channel, including personal devices.

More and more enterprises are undertaking significant digital transformation initiatives to integrate more applications and automate processes in a bid to increase productivity and the pace of innovation. These initiatives frequently involve the integration of information technology with operational technology, even bridging security domains, through direct integration with value chain partners. Digital transformation initiatives deliver significant value, but potentially put more resources at risk and increase the enterprise security threat surface.

Managing external identities, determining who should have access to what resources, and validating and auditing access requests to key resources across channels creates significant administrative overhead for the enterprise. The inherent risk in granting access to mission-critical resources to people and organizations outside the enterprise’s control is compounded by: lack of visibility into an external organization’s hierarchy to validate user requests for access to resources, inability to identify orphan accounts, audit whether users are still active at an organization and still need access to resources, and compromised accounts

The solution for all these business challenges and risks is Identity and Access Management (IAM). It is developed, based on the users and access rights management through an integrated, efficient and centralized infrastructure. This concept combines business processes, policies and technologies that enable companies to provide secure access to any resource, efficiently control this access, respond faster to changing relationships, and protect confidential information from unauthorized users.

Beyond the most basic function of directory services that maintain the metadata associated with an identity, IAM covers two main functions: Authentication and Authorisation.

How does PATECCO IAM solution enable you to manage your most critical identity and access management challenges?

PATECCO offers a robust set of IAM capabilities. The solution enables enterprises to centrally manage the entire identity lifecycle of their internal and external users, as well as their access to critical resources across the enterprise. The IAM platform provides a comprehensive set of capabilities to connect and manage the people, systems, processes, and things that span the extended enterprise. PATECCO IAM solution addresses identity and access management challenges in three key areas:

1. Onboarding and provisioning

 Onboarding and provisioning is a business problem, which deals with the policies, rules, technology, and user experience pertaining to creating and managing user accounts. Enterprises need robust approval-based access requests, the ability to audit access grants, and the ability to provide answers to the questions of who has what, why, and for how long?

 2. Authentication and access

With network security perimeters disappearing and data flowing freely within and between companies, identity has become the crucial point to help manage, control, and govern access to data, applications, and cloud resources. This requires the enterprise to master non-core capabilities such as single sign-on, password management, advanced authentication, role-based access control, and directory services integration.

 3. Privacy and security

The rise in awareness about compliance management—as well as the growing list of regulations on the matter such as GDPR in Europe—is driving the adoption of IAM solutions for security purposes. Enterprises must prevent sensitive information from being disclosed to unauthorized recipients. They must reduce or eliminate the risk of financial loss, public embarrassment, or legal liability from unauthorized disclosure of sensitive or critical information. PATECCO solution for IAM mitigates many of the risks inherent in a diverse, globally distributed supply chain. Starting with comprehensive identity and access management capabilities, we can ensure only the right people have access to the most trusted resources when they need them. Adding comprehensive tools for audit and attestation means that the enterprise can easily determine who has access to what resources at any time, as well as how they got access and when they actually accessed the resource.

After describing the IAM capabilities, we can conclude that the more IAM continues to evolve, the more organizations will look to broader, enterprise-based solutions that are adaptable to new usage trends such as mobile and cloud computing. Effective identity and access management processes are able to bring business value to your enterprise — reduced risk, sustaining compliance, improved efficiency and end user experience responding to the changing IT landscape.

8 Tactics to Get Identity and Access Management Right

Identity and Access Management has always been an ongoing process and an essential element of the enterprises’ infrastructure that demands continuous management. No matter you have completely implemented directory, it’s useful to take advantage of best practices to help continuously manage this crucial part of your IT environment.

PATECCO management team has a long experience in executing projects from different industries. When it comes to IAM implementations, its experts know what exactly works effectively and what not. For this article we have tapped the collective knowledge of these experts to come up with these eight IAM best practices: They will help you improve your identity management system to ensure better security, efficiency and compliance.

#1: Create a clear pan

IAM projects require excellent planning and project management expertise, with a project team representing various stakeholders within the company. Most importantly, you need to have a business perspective and tie the phases of your IAM project to quantifiable business results and benefits. IAM solutions need regular care and feeding long after the initial go-live date, which means planning for follow-up optimizations is crucial.

# 2. Implement IAM in phases

Implementing IAM in phases will definitely shorten the “time to value” of your project — the time before the business sees a distinct benefit — in the process giving you executive backing that will ensure the full funding of future phases.

# 3. Define identities

Start implementing a single, integrated system that ensures end-to-end management of employee identities and that retires orphaned identities at the appropriate time. This is where IT responsibility begins in the identity management lifecycle. You should also identify a primary directory service (often Active Directory) and a messaging system (such as Exchange Server).

#4. Implement workflow

Implementing workflow on the base of “request and approval” provides a secure way to manage and document change. A self-service web-based interface enables users to request permission to resources they need. It’s necessary to define who can control that list of services and who is responsible for managing workflow designs.

# 5. Make provisioning automated

Manging new users, users who leave the organisation, and users who are promoted or demoted within the organisation require provisioning, de-provisioning and re-provisioning. Automating them will reduce errors and will improve consistency. Start first with automating the basic add/change/delete tasks for user accounts, and then integrate additional tasks such as unlocking accounts.

# 6. Manage roles

You will need a certain amount of inventorying and mining to precisely identify the major roles within your organisation, based on the resource permissions currently in force. When the user places a request, the owner of the affected data has the ability to review, approve or deny the request. It is also important to define who will manage these roles and to ensure that roles are created, modified and deactivated by authorised individuals following the proper workflow.

# 7. Become compliant

Many companies are now affected by the GDPR regulations, and your identity management system plays a beneficial role in remaining compliant. You should focus on clearly defining and documenting the job roles that have control over your data, as well as the job roles that should have access to auditing information. Determine compliance rules, and assign each step to a responsible job role.

#8. Provide knowledge and control to business owners

After the IAM system implementation, you should let business data owners manage access to their data and to provide central reporting and control over those permissions. For that purpose education is needed of both end users and the IT staff that will be charged with ongoing administration and operation. From time to time, make a refreshment of their knowledge, to keep up with turnover and new product capabilities.